The weather was a bit variable, light showers and blazing sunshine as we all assembled at The Prestonfield House Hotel for Claire and Michael’s big day. They had chosen a marquee in the grounds as the venue, with the reception being held in the stables about 100m away. The marquee was lovely, decorated with flowers swagged in white, the string quartet was playing in the corner as the ushers showed the guests to their seats and there was a definite buzz of excitement in the air. Claire and Michael had chosen to have a ceremony that was slightly more formal and, in order to make sure of all the details, had asked me to travel down the day before and to have a rehearsal. Which brings me to the subject of this piece – should you have a rehearsal or should you not have a rehearsal?
If you do not have a rehearsal I still promise that your day will be as wonderful and memorable and all that your guests will notice is that is was a relaxed and seemingly spontaneous occasion. For many of the couples I marry this is exactly as they want their wedding to be. I will arrive about 45 minutes before the beginning of the ceremony and spend that time briefing the groom about where to stand, what to do and, most importantly, how to put the ring on his bride’s finger. I am sure there must be many bemused hotel staff who have watched as the groom apparently promises to love me and to care for me as he holds my left hand and mimes putting a ring on my finger! Your best man has a key role to play in the ceremony and I must admit that I am quite tough with them, walking through where they will stand, how they will keep the rings safe and how and when to walk forward with them. I also spend time with the lucky people doing the readings, walking through with them when to come forward and where to stand (they take my place between you both). The challenge with doing the walk through on the day is that I don’t have the opportunity to work with the most important person on the day – the bride – nor can I prepare the bridesmaids nor the bride’s mother.
If you want your wedding to be a little more formal and to appear polished then you really must have a rehearsal. I normally take about 30 -45 minutes and spend most of the time managing the staging and blocking, like a piece of theatre. At a rehearsal we will have the opportunity to run through the Grand Entrance and to work with the bride, her father and the bridesmaids to sort out the timing and to ensure that they know their positions and how to move to them. We can fully rehearse the readings, the best man’s role, and, of course, the exit. But perhaps the most important part is the time that I can spend with the two of you, having asked everyone else to leave, reading your own personal vows or commitments to each other and exchanging your rings.
My own recommendation? If it is at all possible, have a rehearsal.
Claire was good enough to send me the following note:
We can’t thank you enough for being such a major part of what turned out to be the most amazing day of our lives.
All our guests commented on how fantastic you were, and all our English guests were bowled over with what a humanist ceremony entailed. They thought it was amazing at how personal it was. We even had a few guests who aren’t that struck on weddings ceremonies say it was the best service ever and had wished it was longer as they were enjoying so much!!!!
Also since the wedding I have passed your details on to other people, they’ll be very lucky like ourselves if your able to marry them.